april 28, 2013

Syndicate for SNES, a deeper look

I mentioned Syndicate in my second last post. I wasn't sure if I could play it in Japanese, but yesterday I put some effort to find out.

UPDATE 2013-12-05: We have now uploaded a video about this game:

Syndicate was first released on a PC with mouse control. Luckily they didn't keep that control function on the SNES. Instead you press a combination of buttons.
To change the menu, press L or R. To enter a menu, press Y. Here you can press A to do something, or B to cancel, or X to switch something (such as between buy and sell). Left and Right change between characters in the menu. In the game, Select makes a team follow or unfollow. Y+Left/Right switches between team member. X+Left/Right switches between weapons. X+Up picks up a weapon and X+down drops a weapon. A fires and B enters/exits cars. R makes it possible to get a temporare boost extra energies you have. L+R boosts all energies at the same time.

It takes a little while to learn the controls but not too bad. The game may not be that great without mouse but it is definitely playable as I will show, even in the Japanese version. I don't know if anyone else would want to play this game in Japanese, but if you do, with some basic Katakana knowledge you'll be able to play with little problems.

How to play
There is a lot that could be said about the game. I made some use of the strategyguide at http://www.gamefaqs.com/snes/588769-syndicate/faqs/35052 to get instructions, even if the FAQ isn't completely accurate for the Japanese version.

The basics are:

* There is always one of 3 things you have to do: kill someone, persuade someone, or pick up a suitcase.

* Persuade is a very important concept. In order to persuade you have to buy "the persuader" as i did in the beginning of the video. With this item you Persuade others to follow you. Just Equip it and stand close to the person you have to Persuade. There are some other factors to know about Persuasion too, and they are explained in the Gamefaq article above. Important: If you Persuade people, you have to take all of them with you to the exit or else you can't exit. If your persuaded person lose sight of your guy, they will start to walk around. Sometimes inside buildings. And you might have to go around looking for them. This was not explained in the FAQ and got me stuck for 3 hours when I first played.

* You also have to upgrade your cyborg with "brain". You can upgrade your weapons, research ways to improve your cyborg, there are other agents out to get you (which you can kill or persuade to make them part of your team). The upgrades do different things. Upgrade Eye to spot the enemy earlier. Upgrade Body to give a stronger armor. Upgrade Leg to run faster. Arm will make your shot more accurate. Etc.

I found out that the SNES version has a password option, but the Super Famicom version has a Continue option. So there is a battery save after each mission. Even if you fail a mission (such as killing someone you should have persuaded) you can just restart the mission, You can also just wait at the menu to accumulate money so you can buy upgrades you need (it will take a long boring time to use that strategy).

Also, the game has a two player mode. You play at the same time on the screen, controlling different characters. I think this mode could be fun for someone who enjoys to walk around and shoot without too high of a challenge. Maybe for someone who wants to play with their kid.

My impressions
I liked the game, but there are so many countries that I didn't manage to played to the end. After the first 20 or so missions all upgrades will be completed and there are still 20 missions left. The game will get quite simple and there isn't much challenge or variation. I wish they would have made the game 50% shorter, and put in some cut scenes to liven it up. Now it's just mission after mission. Completing the rest would probably take me another 15 hours, but I probably won't do it.

I still think it is a nice game with original ideas. There is too much for me to describe briefly here, but it isn't too complicated. Clearly, since I was able to play the Japanese version. I could mention the graphics, the strategy aspect, the shooting aspect, the freedom to build as you want... I could mention how the SNES and MD versions are the same, but both these 16-bit versions are different than the PC version. A PSP version released in 2006 is actually the SNES version run in an emulator. The PC ( and Mac ) version has a lot of great reviews here, maybe I'll try it out some time. The Amiga version has good reviews too, but at the moment I am into Japanese video games only.

The save function makes this game game not that hard to beat if you have the persistance. So I think anyone could complete this game, japanese version or not.

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